Brewing a Great Cup of Coffee - How to Make the Best Coffee

Making your cup of coffee could be as simple as adding a spoonful of instant coffee to water, or a lengthy process using an expensive coffee maker. Several coffee making systems, refined and handed down over many years, are available for you to use.

The most popular commercial coffee making system today is the espresso pressurised infusion machine. Increasingly, small versions of the expensive machines used in coffee shops are becoming practical and affordable for use in our homes. The espresso process forces water under pressure at just under boiling temperature through the coffee grounds to create your cup of coffee.

With the right blend of Arabica beans, often with a component of Robusta beans, a characteristic crema or fine froth will appear on your espresso coffee. Aficionados can interpret much about the quality of the beans and the process if the crema is not a smooth even dark honey color. True European espresso coffee is strong and served in small demitasse cups: a short black. It can be watered down in a long black, or used as a "shot" of coffee in a variety of mixes.

In homes and restaurants a French Press or Bodum plunger coffee maker is popular. It is a refinement of the more cumbersome practice of mixing coffee and water in a jug then pouring out the coffee through a filter to retain the grounds. Coarser coffee grounds are mixed with hot water, left to steep for a few minutes, then separated by pressing the grounds to the bottom with a gauze filter on the end of a plunger before serving the coffee. It is important that you depress the plunger slowly to get the best and clearest coffee.

Vacuum coffee makers, originated by Cona but available in several brands, use steam and a vacuum to move water and coffee between chambers in a fascinating process to watch, and make excellent coffee. This concept is less popular today, perhaps because it is a more intricate process that requires a little more patience than most of us have. For some the quality of the coffee offsets the effort.

A drip or filter coffee maker, sometimes with a throwaway paper filter and sometimes a plastic or metal filter, is a simple process. The water is mixed with the ground coffee then passes through the filter to a pot, which is often kept warm on a hotplate.

Paper filters usually accept a finer grind of coffee than the metal filters. These makers are common both commercially and in homes. Often the water is not as hot as it should be when it is mixed with the coffee in these systems, and so they rarely produce excellent coffee. Some people believe they can taste the paper or plastic used in the filter.

There are also other popular ways to make coffee, such as the Italian mocha pot and the Turkish ibrik.

Old time coffee percolators have fallen out of favour, because they boiled the water and so many consider they ruined the flavor of the coffee; but they can still be found in some homes.